Computer Programming is Easy and Fun - For Kids
Reading writing and math are essential skills for kids. But in the 21st Century computer technology will continue to grow as an essential fact of life. Kids need to learn programming skills along with their other core subjects. These programs make learning computer programming easy and fun.
Shoes is a simple graphical interface designed to work on the Ruby platform. Ruby is a relatively new programming language created by Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto. The language was designed to be simpler to understand by being more like an actual spoken language. With Shoes, learning Ruby becomes even easier. Shoes is free to download and easy to install. Shoes is designed to make little colorful programs and animations. These could run on your computer but are even better on the web. A manual that explains everything is available on their website as a free .pdf download or a $5.95 mail order.
Alice is a 3D programming environment that teaches object oriented programming. It teaches fundamental programming concepts while the students make fun animations or simple video games. People, animals and vehicles inhabit a virtual world where kids decide which code they want to use to move them around. Alice has a drag and drop interface with tiles. Each tile has a standard programming statement. When the tile is dropped on the character the action is performed. This allows kids to easily and quickly understand what the code does.
Scratch is a 2D programming language that lets kids easily create their own animations, games, music, and art. The free program from the MIT Media Lab is designed to teach kids creative thinking, systematic reasoning, and collaboration. Scratch projects are made up of objects called sprites. Sprites can be decorated and dressed up by importing photos or using the built in paint feature. Sprites move or play music or react to other sprites when a graphic block is placed into a stacks (called scripts in Scratch). Clicking on the stacks activates them. Kids get to see immediately what their script can do.
JUDO is a Java IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for kids. By using a simplified version of Java, JUDO allows kids to learn faster so they can make interesting and entertaining things quickly. The JUDO site offers step by step tutorials that walk kids through the process. They learn how to write and run programs, and set program properties.